If most recent horror flicks seem a bit bloodless to you, then make haste to Wolf Creek, a genuinely unpleasant Aussie shocker that finds three young travellers at the mercy of Outback psycho Mick Taylor (John Jarratt). If, on the other hand, you'd rather see something that isn't purely memorable for its sheer nastiness and doesn't take its sweet time reaching its raison d'etre, then you might want to steer clear of these waters.
The opening assertion "Based on a true story" is actually a bit of a porkie: first-time writer/director Greg McLean's yarn was inspired not by one case but by a variety of real-life loonballs (like Ivan Milat, the 'Backpacker Killer'). While this acquits him of charges of base exploitation, he's guilty of other crimes. For one thing, he lets the build-up drag on for too long; the sense of foreboding we're meant to feel eventually curdles into impatience.
"THE REALISM IS IMPRESSIVE"
The carnage, when it finally arrives, is imbued with a harrowing intensity that's at times closer to the extreme cinema of Euro-auteurs like Gaspar Noé (Irréversible) and Michael Haneke (Funny Games) than the comicbook splatter of your average Hollywood frightener. The realism is impressive - in a dubious sort of way - yet the film's preference for female suffering gives it a misogynist undertow that's even more unsettling than the gore. For all its vaunted freshness, Wolf Creek is ultimately just another exercise in woman-in-peril sadism that's good for a few screams but has little to say.